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Chris Mellor

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Chris Mellor covers storage and allied technology areas for The Register. After experience working for DEC, Unisys and SCO, he became an IT journalist writing for a variety of print publications. He edited the UK's first storage print magazine and then moved into the online world writing for IDG's Techworld, then started up the Blocks & Files blog, which was bought by El Reg.

He has written many sportscar buying guides, a few mountaineering guides and drives a car that's faster than he is.

By | Chris Mellor 9th June 2010 14:14

Brocade launches cloudy Brocade One

Virtual cluster switching - it's the new big thing!

Brocade has introduced its new great big vision thing, Brocade One, a cloud and data centre architecture, with Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS) as the core technology for building large, high-performance and flat Layer 2 data centre fabrics to better support server virtualization.

Brocade reckons it is in prime position to monitor and manage virtualised data centre fabrics to better ensure application service delivery to networked customers. Its chief marketing officer, John McHugh, modified Sun's old rubric, saying "The network is the data centre".

VCS is built on Data Centre Bridging (DCB or converged enhanced Ethernet) technologies and involves clustered switches. Every switch has a fully-distributed list of all devices connected to the cluster. Brocade says VCS fabrics are inherently multi-pathing and resilient, effectively eliminating the need for Spanning Tree Protocol (STP).

It says there is a completely masterless and distributed control plane, providing continuous synchronization of state, status and configuration information, such as virtual machine (VM) meta-data, network and storage policies, between member nodes to enable converged fabrics to be self-forming, auto-healing and self-configuring.

VCS simplifies management by treating the cluster as a single logical chassis, reducing the number of elements being managed in the fabric, hopefully and decreases the associated cost and complexity. It enables services to be inserted into converged fabrics dynamically, and without interruption or reconfiguration of the network.

VCS uses an emerging IETF standard, Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) that will provide a more efficient way of moving data throughout converged fabrics. This includes automatically determining the shortest path between routes. It has a distributed services architecture that makes the fabric aware of all of its connected devices and its ability to share information across those devices.

A VCS feature, Automatic Migration of Port Profiles (AMPP), enables a VM’s network profiles, such as security or Quality of Service (QoS) levels, to follow that VM during migrations without manual intervention.

The first VCS ship will support 1,000 10Gbit Ethernet connections and 10,000 virtual machines.

Overall Brocade says VCS is the first converged data centre fabric. It is Brocade's strike at Cisco-based views of how data centre networking should develop, and its attempt to embed itself deeply in data centre infrastructures with close partnerships with server and storage OEMs, particularly the non-Cisco-aligned one.

There is bound to be looming competition with HP down the road, but Brocade will deal with this by saying that most customers treat data centres as broad churches and don't want lock-in to single IT stack suppliers. ®

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